Robert Ancill

CEO & Managing Partner

Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Robert joined the Glasgow College of Food Technology and graduated with the HCIMA qualification, and then subsequently attained his MBA. During his career, Robert worked for a range of well-known brands including: Planet Hollywood, House of Fraser, Safeway, Panera Bread and HMS Host.

In 2002 Robert founded The Next Idea, a high energy, innovative international restaurant consulting agency that simply provides - The Next Idea.

Never wavering from The Next Idea's core values of Creativity, Excellence, Client Service, and Integrity, Robert has built The Next Idea from a one client agency to an acclaimed international boutique consulting group with a broad range of small, medium, and large clients, and an enviable project portfolio.

Robert is Interim CEO and Executive CEO of several restaurant groups under management, and is regularly quoted in the Media on global restaurant and food trends as well as food & restaurant opportunities in emerging and frontier markets.

He is also active in the Non Profit world, supporting many good causes including, anti-slavery, cure and support for autism and child education in underdeveloped countries.


In his spare time Robert is an amateur photographer, whose work has been featured in a number of magazines and websites, and can be found at:

Mercedes Chiprut

Partner & Chief Operating Officer

Mercedes career spans over 18 years in the Restaurant, Retail & Leisure Industries, with a focus in restaurant/cafe operations and training. 

Mercedes has managed over 60 restaurant/café openings in the UK & the US.

Mercedes is responsible for all The Next Idea operations and training activities, and has consulted with a range of food service operators; including Virgin Trains, Panera Bread, and Albert Roux Cafes.

Philip Gay

JV Partner, TNI Management

Philip Gay has over 25 years experience in operating restaurants, accounting and finance and has assisted middle market companies with financing, mergers and acquisitions, franchising and strategic planning needs.

Rooted in experience with leading restaurant industry brands, his tenure has included being President and CEO of Grill Concepts Inc, CFO for California Pizza Kitchen, CFO and Interim CEO for Wolfgang Puck Food Company, CEO for Color Me Mine, CEO and COO for Diversified Food Group. Philip graduated with a BSC, Economics at London School of Economics and Political Science.

Thelma Weaver

Senior Consultant Marketing & Project Management


Thelma graduated from City University of New York-Hunter College with a degree in Media Studies and Psychology.


Her background includes 9 years of diversified experience in project management, marketing, and promotional programming, in mobile communications, tradeshows and hospitality.


Thelma began her career as Brand manager (freelance) for a range of well known US and international brands, including Stella Artois, DKNY, Lufthansa, Boars Head, Jet Magazine, Snapple, Time Warner Cable, Estee Lauder and T-Mobile.


She then became  Project and Marketing Manager with Ring Plus, a dynamic start up telecommunications company based in Beverly Hills, California.


In 2016 Thelma joined The Next Idea as Marketing Consultant, and has worked on multiple accounts including: Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, Maria's Italian Kitchen, Poke O, The Hungry Trader, and Steak N Shake.


Thelma was Key Note Speaker on Marketing, Past, Present and Future, at the Bahrain Hospitality Forum 2017, and is Editor of all Client and TNI written communications.

Douglas Clark

Chef Consultant

Douglas Clark knows how to create a great meal, and a great menu. Doug was a professional chef in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for fifteen years and has self-published a range of recipes.

Doug has managed a variety of high end restaurant and hotel kitchens, and has held positions including: Hilton Hotel – Executive Head Chef, La Charcuterie (PA), Head Chef, Vermont Flat Bread Company – Head Chef, La Foret (PA) – Sous Chef, Panera Bread: Bakery & Line Manager.


Doug has worked with The Next Idea from the day of our inception, and has consulted with a range of our clients in concept and new menu launches, kitchen training, food management and product development.